Employee Training

For the Most Productive Workplace, Assign Employees the Work They Do Best

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Don is an extremely busy general manager. He has several departmental managers that report to him directly and is not too involved with the smaller day-to-day operations of his business.

Recently, he decided to take a closer look at how smoothly his business was operating. He sent out a company-wide survey and found his employees were unhappy with some aspects of their jobs.

The main thing he noticed was most of his employees did not feel the company used their strengths effectively.

A 2015 survey from Michelle McQuaid and the Via Institute on Character found that employees perform better and are more engaged in their work when they and their managers focus on building their strengths, rather than improving their weaknesses.

Employers can help identify the strengths of their employees and work on building them to improve their satisfaction and engagement in the workplace.

Here are five ways to make that happen:

1. Evaluate where everyone’s strengths lie within the company.

When managers understand where the strengths of their employees lie, they can assign tasks based on those skill sets. In February 2014, Gallup created the Strengths Orientation Index to analyze how engaged employees were when they felt their employers focused on their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses. It was found that of the 1,003 U.S. employees, 37 percent of employees felt their employer focused on their strengths. As a result, this led to 61 percent of employees feeling engaged in their work. 

Playing to employees’ strengths makes it easier to successfully run a business. For instance, it does not make sense for Don to tell Joann, a sales person, to write the communication pieces when he knows Rylie in marketing is a strong writer.

Related: Today's Most Satisfied Employees Demand These 4 Things

2. Assign tasks related to individual strengths.

In February 2014, the Journal of Positive Psychology found the use of strengths at work was connected with work performance, and this relationship is explained by vitality, concentration and harmonious passion.

With Rylie being a strong writer, she can easily draft introduction letters for the company. While Joann can write, it takes her longer and her writing is often strongly edited. By keeping Joann focused on selling and Rylie focused on writing, Don has two tasks being completed by the best people for the job.

It may not be Don’s responsibility to make sure his employees never do a task they hate. However, giving employees jobs that play to their strengths is one way to make sure employees are engaged in their work. The more they enjoy what they do, the better their work will be.

Related: Culture That Counts -- 5 Ways to Dramatically Boost Employee Satisfaction

3. Provide necessary training.  

A major frustration for new employees is not knowing how to do their job properly.

This February, Deloitte University Press found 85 percent of respondents cited learning as “important” or “very important,” but more companies than ever report they are unprepared to meet this challenge.

By providing hands-on training, employees will be more likely to succeed right off the bat. With leaders interacting with new hires on a regular basis, employers will also get to know sooner what are a new employees’ strengths.

Research released in Association of Talent Development’s State of the Industry in November 2014 shows employers spend on average $1,208 to train employees. While many managers may not feel they have enough time and money to effectively train their employees, proper training helps avoid costly mistakes down the line for new hires.

Related: 5 Ways You Might Be Failing Your Employees

4. Set up reverse mentorships.  

Reverse mentorships are a great way for Don to enlist the help of experienced employees to bring out the strengths of his new employees. While traditional mentorships place the teaching responsibility on the mentor, reverse mentorships place equal responsibility on the mentee as well.

As a person works for a company for a long period of time, they often rely on the skills they learned years ago. Giving new employees the opportunity to show new ways to help a coworker is a great way to promote respect for each other’s strengths in the office.

Technology comes easily for Millennials. In October 2014, Elance-oDesk found 82 percent of the hiring managers surveyed felt Millennials were technologically adept. Instead of watching their older coworkers struggle with programs they grew up with, they should offer to help teach their colleagues the basics. In return, older coworkers can teach the ways of the office and proper business etiquette.

Related: 4 Tips on How to Bring Out the Best in Your New Hires

5. Provide feedback frequently.  

Don uses software like Feedback Socially to provide feedback to his employees frequently.

Research from Feedback Socially shows employees are more engaged when they receive feedback once a week. Using this software is a quick way to provide the feedback employees need, keeping them engaged and more likely to stay at Don’s company.

When Don uses Feedback Socially, he is providing specific feedback on a weekly basis instead of waiting for annual or quarterly employee reviews. While he takes the time to address areas of concern, he focuses mainly on promoting the things his employees do well.

Don doesn’t need an office full of jack-of-all-trades, he just wants employees that truly excel at their jobs. Feedback Socially offers a way for Don to acknowledge his employees’ strengths on a regular basis.

Related: Seven Steps to Coaching Your Employees to Success